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Sexual Violence and Relationship Violence Policy

The Mission Statement of Duquesne University emphasizes a profound concern for moral and spiritual values. This concern is underscored in the Sexual Violence and Relationship Violence Policy which serves to protect the right of each member of the University community from sexual violence and relationship violence.  Sexual violence and relationship violence are violations of the Student Code (students) and The Administrative Policies (Faculty and Staff).  All students are responsible for their own actions and are expected to maintain high standards of moral and ethical behavior as well as to comply with local, state, and federal laws. Sexual violence is a violation of the Student Code. 

Sexual violence involves the physical contact of a sexual nature which is against one’s will or without one’s consent. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • nonconsensual sexual intercourse or penetration (vaginal, oral, or anal) by any means;
  • nonconsensual sexual contact (any touching of intimate body parts with any body part or object without consent);
  • sexual contact with a person while knowing or having reason to know that the person is incapacitated by any means including alcohol or other drugs.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a stranger or acquaintance. Both men and women can be victims or perpetrators.

Relationship violence consists of the following behaviors:

  • Domestic violence- includes a variety of criminal offenses committed against the victim by the victim's current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, or a person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law,
  • Dating Violence- includes offense committed against a victim who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Such a relationship shall be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
  • Stalking- is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his, her, or others' safety, or to suffer substancial emotional distress.

Victims of sexual violence and relationship violence may experience feelings of confusion, disbelief, shock, guilt, shame, self-blame, resentment, anger and fear. Persons who experience the violence and trauma of sexual violence are victims, but they are also encouraged to be survivors in the sense of being persons with dignity and power who rise above the assault.

This policy, which complies with the Higher Education Reauthorization Amendment Act and the Violence Against Women Act, ensures consistent procedures and provides coordination of University and community resources for victims of sexual violence. The intention of the University is to increase awareness and prevention of sexual violence and relationship violence, and to provide assistance for survivors and their families.  The Department of Public Safety will provide written information to victims of their rights as crime victims, and of resources available to assist them.

Educational Programming

The University sponsors a variety of educational programs that seek to raise awareness of sexual violence issues and maximize the possibility of prevention. Programs are offered by Health Service and the University Counseling Center upon request. Self-defense classes including RAD (Rape Aggressive Defense) and SAFE (Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange Program).  Educational/Awareness classes including 'Rape Awareness and Prevention' and 'Relationship Violence Awareness and Prevention' are also offered by the Department of Public Safety.

Procedures for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking

1 . Attempt to get to a safe place as quickly as possible.

2. For assistance victims can contact the University Counseling Center, 412.396.6204; the on-call Residence Life staff member, 412.396.5888; Health Service, 412.396.1650; Spiritan Campus Ministry, 412.396.6020; or Department of Public Safety, 412.396.COPS (2677).

3. It is important to preserve all physical evidence. Victims who have been sexually assaulted SHOUL NOT bathe, shower, or douche. If oral sex was involved do not brush your teeth, drink, or smoke. These activities will destroy evidence. The victim should try not to change clothes before seeking medical treatment. If possible bring another set of clothing to the hospital as original clothes will be preserved as possible evidence. If the victim changes clothes prior to going to the hospital, she/he should take the soiled clothes in a paper bag as evidence (plastic bags destroy evidence).  Victims of relationship violence should not erase text messages, emails, or other social media that may contain messages directly, or indirectly, from the abusive person or stalker.

4. Victims of sexual, physical, or emotional violence are encouraged to seek immediate medical treatment (UPMC Mercy Emergency Room, 412.232.8222).  The victims of sexual violence hsould be assessed for sexually transmitted infection, injury, or pregnancy. Hospital personnel will also collect evidence in case the victim might wish to file criminal charges later. It is important to know that hospitals are required to report any injuries which are the result of a crime. This does not mean that the victim must file charges.  Victims of relationship violence likewise should be assessed and treated for physical and emotional trauma by medical personnel as soon as possible.

5. Any victim can pursue legal action. However, it is difficult to collect physical evidence more than 72 hours after an assault to support such charges.

6. Victims who wish to take legal action against their assailants may seek assistance through the Office of Student Conduct, 412.396.6642; Department of Public Safety 412.396.COPS (2677); or Pittsburgh Police 412.323.7141.

7. Victims have the right to refuse to take legal action even if they file a police report.

8. Victims of sexual violence are encouraged to obtain counseling through the University Counseling Center 412.396.6204, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) 412.765.2731, or the Center for Victims of Violent Crimes 412.392.8582. Victims may also be able to obtain sudent protective orders and Protection From Abuse orders; the Department of Public Safety or the Office of Student Conduct will assist you in obtaining, serving, and enforcing protective orders.

9. Victims are encouraged to contact someone they trust such as a close friend, family member, University Counseling Center or Spiritan Campus Ministry staff member to offer support through the process.

10. If the victim of sexual or relationship violence elects to pursue criminal or disciplinary action, the investigation (and disciplinary procedure) shall be conducted in a manner to protect the safety of the victim and to promote accountability.  All investigations and disciplinary proceedings shall be conducted in a prompt, fair, and impartial manner.  Investigators and Office of Student Conduct officials shall receive annual training on investigations and issues related to sexual violence and relationship violence.  The Office of Student Conduct shall base the determination of responsible/not responsible upon a preponderance of the evidence standard.  Bot the accused and the accuser shall have the same opportunity to have a support person or advisor at any disciplinary proceeding.  Upon a final determination by the Office of Student Conduct, possible sanctions for sexual or relationship violence are included in Article V.C. of the Student Code, such sanction to include, but not be limited to university suspension or expulsion, Living Learning Center suspension or expulsion, discretionary sanctions, loss of privilege, probation, and warning.  Duquesne University will simultaneously and in writing notify both the accuser and the accused of the outcome of the Office of Student Conduct disciplinary hearing, including information about appeal procedures and final results.

11.Whenever any student or employee reports to a Duquesne University "Campus Security Authority" that they have been a victim of sexual or relationship violence, the Campus Security Authority shall immediately contact the Department of Public Safety; the Department of Public Safety shall provide the victim with written information on Victim's Rights, protective orders, and possible criminal and university sanctions available, as well as how to seek sanctions.

12.  If the alleged victim is deceased as a result of such crime or offense, the next of kin of such victim shall be treated as the alleged victim for purposes of this paragraph.

Emotional Support for Victims of Sexual Violence and Relationship Violence

Counseling is available for victims of sexual violence at the University Counseling Center (UCC). The UCC offers both crisis intervention and ongoing counseling. UCC is located in 636 Fisher Hall, and regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A UCC crisis counselor is available 24 hours a day by calling the University Police at 412.396.COPS (2677) and asking to speak to the counselor on call. Depending upon the specific needs of the victim, referrals for counseling may be made to community mental health centers and to private practitioners. Counseling is also available in the community at the Center for Victims of Violent Crime and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. These community agencies offer 24-hour hotlines, crisis intervention, support counseling, group counseling, and/or legal advocacy. Victims of past sexual abuse, incest, or sexual violence are also eligible for counseling at UCC and in the community at agencies such as Family Resources and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

Reporting Incidents to Legal Authorities

Victims have the option to report the incident immediately to Duquesne’s Department of Public Safety, 412.396.COPS (2677). Reporting an incident is different from choosing to prosecute. Filing a report does not obligate the victim to continue with legal proceedings or University student conduct proceedings. The victim can choose whether or not to participate in proceedings at any point in the process. The purposes for reporting an incident are:

1. to protect yourself and others from future victimization;

2. to apprehend the assailant;

3. to in some way seek justice for the wrong done to the victim.

If a victim chooses to report the incident one or two University police officers will take a statement from her/him regarding what happened. They will ask her/him to describe and/or identify the assailant(s). They may ask questions about what happened before and after the incident, about any witnesses and about the scene of the crime. Victims may have a support person of their choice with them during the interview. The case will be investigated by the Pittsburgh Police, assisted by the Department of Public Safety. This does not mean that the victim has to file criminal charges. Victims can request that their identity be kept confidential. If the victim decides at this time that she/he does not want to pursue action she/he may want to consider having an anonymous report made. The purpose of an anonymous report is to take some steps to ensure future safety for the victim and others while protecting her/his identity. The University can use such information to keep accurate records about the number of incidents, look for patterns of assaults regarding location, method, or assailant and alert the campus community to potential danger. If a victim wishes to file an anonymous report she/he may call the University Counseling Center at 412.396.6204.

Duquesne University will, upon written request, disclose to the alleged victim of a crime of violence, or a non-forcible sex offense, the results of any disciplinary hearing conducted by the college against the student who is the alleged perpetrator of the crime or offense.  If the alleged victim is deceased as a result of the crime or offense, Duquesne University will provide the results of the disciplinary hearing to the victim's next of kin, if so requested.

Living Learning Center Adjustments

Options and assistance are available to change academic and living arrangements for victims of sexual violence. At the request of the victim, the living arrangements of the individual(s) involved will be changed, especially if the individual(s) involved are currently assigned to the same Living Learning Center. If the victim wishes to be relocated then she/he will be given that option. The Resident Director on duty must be contacted to ensure that this procedure occurs. At the request of the victim, changes will be made in the academic environment to ensure the safety and well being of the individual(s) involved. The professional staff member involved will be responsible for initiating these changes.

Possible University Sanctions

The procedures for disciplinary action in cases of alleged sexual violence are those employed in all student conduct cases and are contained in Article V.A. of the Student Code.  The accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a disciplinary proceeding.  Following an on-campus disciplinary procedure, the sanctions for sexual violence that may result are those applied to all student conduct cases. These sanctions are contained in Article V.C. of the Student Code. They include, without being limited to, University suspension or expulsion, Living Learning Center suspension or expulsion, discretionary sanctions, loss of privileges, probation, and warning. Both the accuser and the accused must be informed of the outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding that is brought alleging a sex offense.